|My first 'real' running shoes|
My mentor, Stuart, mentioned the whole minimalist thing to me right when I first started running, although back then I had no idea what all the fuss was about. I eventually picked up a book that he mentioned, called Born To Run by Christopher McDougall which stresses the benefits of barefoot/ minimalist running, which really convinced me that this was something that I needed to do, sooner rather than later. I subsequently picked up another book by a hard core, barefoot running evangelist, called Barefoot Running: Step by Step by Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton. Barefoot Ken Bob believes that barefoot is the only way to go, in everything you do, which is a little bit much for me, but we'll see what happens.
What's the big deal?
Proponents of barefoot/ minimalist cite many reports that would seem to imply that the current design of shoe is a major cause of many of the back and leg problems that people report while running. If you look at the construction of the foot and the mass of nerve endings and muscles that it contains, it is really quite amazing. Then the amazing thing is that we then cram all that stuff into a artificial holder and hope for the best. To compare, can you imagine wearing a pair of ski gloves all the time and trying to function day to day like that. Evangelists also point to the horrible, large, clunky heel design of these and how they actually force you to run in an unhealthy manner, i.e. landing heel first. If you look at the many peoples around the world that do not spend their entire life in shoes and how they walk and run, they tend to land on their midfoot or on the ball of their foot. For a little more detail, checkout Wikipedia or the many other barefoot/ minimalist running resources on the web.
It is quite a controversial topic in the fitness world, as there are many bigots both ways.
|My new, bizarre & comfy shoes|
Planning a good transition is key to doing it right and not buggering up my legs all together. I will be trying to follow the training plan from the Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) education & resources website at http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/education/index.htm. I will also be doing 100 up challenge, which I originally came across in Christopher McDougall's blog posting about the Natural Running Store.
I have been thinking about this for a while and decided that the winter might be the best time to start for a couple of reasons. My chances for running outside are going be dramatically reduced, but I have found a local high school that has an indoor walking/ running track which I hope to take advantage of during the winter in order to work on my gait. The nice, short track, will be key for transitioning as not overdoing it at the start is very important.